THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 MARCH 2019 (On the learning curve: transforming education outcomes in India (The Hindu))

On the learning curve: transforming education outcomes in India (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Education Ranking system
Mains level: Discuss the highlights of the system


  •  Improvement in learning outcomes is an immediate goal for India to fulfil its aspirations of playing a greater role in the global economy.
  •  It is crucial that the states adopt a systemic approach to transforming education outcomes, drawing lessons from the successful models.

Significant is the education department

  •  The education department certainly has the largest share of employees in the State governments in India.
  •  Besides frontline service providers (teachers), there are a number of other officials and administrators.
  •  They form an important part of the overall educational set-up.
  •  So having proper educational reform policies in place is essential to effectively utilise this human resource to achieve higher learning outcomes.

Major challenges

  •  Education transformation programmes by the States are often not designed in a way to be agreed upon by all key actors.
  •  Any effort at education reforms must ensure that the incentives of all stakeholders are aligned throughout the system to ensure their participation.
  •  A successful example of implementing such an all encompassing road map can be seen in Haryana.

About the Haryana's model

  •  Haryana has created a race among its administrative blocks to be declared as ‘Saksham’ (Hindi for abled/skilled).
  •  This means that they should have 80% or more students who are grade level competent i.e. the appropriate level of competence for a particular grade.
  •  Under this campaign, officials take up remedial programmes, teacher training and internal assessments.
  •  Consequently, if they are confident that their block has achieved the 80% target, state officials nominate their block for the ‘Saksham Ghoshna’.
  •  This self-nomination is then followed by rigorous rounds of third party assessments to check their claims.
  •  If a block is found to be ‘Saksham’, the block officials are recognised and honoured by the State administration.
  •  Further, when all blocks in a district are declared as ‘Saksham’, the entire district is also accorded the ‘Saksham’ status.
  •  According to the latest third party assessment, 94 blocks out of a total of 119 in Haryana have been declared ‘Saksham’.
  •  The overall grade competence has been assessed at 80%, a giant leap from 40% in 2014.
  •  Given these early successes, many other States are also embarking on such programmes.

Implication highlights

  •  Inducing competition among administrative units helps encourage the key stakeholders to work in tandem to achieve the intended outcomes.
  •  Competition also makes abstract goals such as ‘learning outcomes’ more real by defining exact ‘actionable’ metrics of improvement.
  •  Further, with encouragement from above, such campaigns lead to a shift in the mindset of a State’s education administrators.
  •  Otherwise, generally, there is lack of motivation to believe and work towards the achievement of high learning outcomes.
  •  So political commitment to improve the education quality along with proper review and monitoring mechanisms can spur meaningful activity in States.

NITI Aayog's approach in this regard

  •  Since its inception, the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) insists on competitive federalism.
  •  Competitive federalism puts pressure on policymakers across States to perform better on pre-defined goals and metrics.
  •  SEQI - To translate the above into education, NITI Aayog has now developed the State-level ‘School Education Quality Index’ (SEQI).
  •  The index gives scores to States based on their educational performance and puts this data out in the public domain.
  •  SEQI uses 3 data sources, including the National Achievement Survey.
  •  It comes out with 33 indicators to measure education outcomes, of which the largest weightage (48%) is given to learning outcomes.

It adopts a two-fold ranking system

  •  To an overall performance score recognises well-performing States
  •  To a delta ranking that measures the level of improvement made by States from their base year.
  •  In effect, the NITI’s Aayog’s State ranking encourages competition among States and thus motivates other States to consistently improve.


  •  The NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts programme (ADP), launched in early 2018, also draws from the model of competition.
  •  Here, under-served districts across the country compete with each other in order to achieve targets in 5 crucial sectors.
  •  These include education, which has among a weightage of 30%.
  •  These districts are monitored on a real-time basis and ranked on the basis of their progress.
  •  The follow-up for each indicator is handled by the respective Ministry, while NITI Aayog handles the data compilation and dissemination.
  •  Significantly, there is a constant focus on recognising and disseminating best practices of select districts to other States.
  •  This acts as a reward for well-performing local administrations.
  •  This strategy has already shown success with districts that were ranked low in baseline surveys showing remarkable progress in subsequent rounds of assessment.
  •  These include Virudhunagar (TN), Nuapada (Odisha), Gumla (Jharkhand), Siddharthnagar (UP), Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh).


  •  Evidently, the right incentive structures for stakeholders lead to administrative efficiency, thereby improving the quality of service delivery.
  •  States therefore need to induce competition and encourage all key actors in education to improve the learning levels.
  •  This systemic approach can go a long way in transforming education in India.

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Prelims Questions:

Q1. The Parliament can redraw the political map of India according to its will. Which of these arguments or statements support this view?

  1. Parliament is not bound by the views of the state legislature and may either accept or reject them.
  2. The constitution must be amended under Article 368 to accommodate new states, for which states do not play any decisive role.

Which of the above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) None

Answer: A
Mains Questions:

Q.1) Discuss the highlights of education ranking system suggested by Niti Aayog.